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 • Opinion  • Our Beauty Diaries  • I’m a Beauty Editor Who Had Acne for 10 Years. Here’s How I Cleared it Up

I’m a Beauty Editor Who Had Acne for 10 Years. Here’s How I Cleared it Up

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Main image – Courtesy of writer

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions today, affecting everyone from preteens to adults.

And as someone who had fairly severe acne for a good 10 years, I understand more than most that in the age of the internet, where we are constantly bombarded by beauty standards that are often hardly achievable, suffering from this condition can still be a challenge.

If you want to know how I transitioned from an all-over acne face during my university years to clear skin in my late twenties- and learned to love my skin in the meantime- grab a cup of tea and keep scrolling.


First getting acne

I started noticing my acne at uni. To put you in context, this was a decade ago.

Hence, a full face of makeup was the way to go, which we didn’t know at that time would make our acne even worse. Oh, and the idea of squeezing any imperfection that flared up was my mantra (you can imagine how many acne scars I ended up having and am still trying to get rid of them at this day).


Beauty editor Belen Arce first getting acne in her teens. Image – Courtesy of writer


But for some reason at the age of 18 I didn’t care about improving the appearance of my skin.  It wasn’t until I met my bestie at the dorm that I started to think about using a skincare routine that would suit my oily and acne skin. I know! 

Like many girls suffering from acne at the time, I only wanted to dry out my skin so the oil would go away; I thought that was the main problem. But it wasn’t until a few years later that I realised this really wasn’t helping.


Seeing my first derm

As my acne worsened, so did my confidence in myself.

It was time to pay a visit to a dermatologist, who recommended Accutane (if you have acne, you probably know this isn’t a treatment for everyone; as soon as they told me my skin would flake entirely, I refused, even though the long-term results sounded dreamy).

They also ran some tests to rule out PCOS, and although the results were negative, the dermatologist recommended taking the contraceptive pill to manage my acne. I did it for a few months without much progress on my acne battle until I moved to Australia and honestly couldn’t be bothered to carry a pile of prescriptions down under. 


Having acne as a beauty editor

Most people go to Australia to travel, rent a van, and do as many road trips as possible, while I just wanted to kickstart my journalism career, and soon after, I started my journey as a beauty editor. But ironically my dream job initially made my skin worse.

Imagine a girl in her early twenties receiving heaps of beauty products– a dream- until all those products ruined my skin; it was worse than ever.


Belen began seeing a dermatologist for her acne. Image – Courtesy of writer


Why, would you ask? I compromised my skin barrier by over-exfoliating it and using products just for the sake of it. I told myself I had to try as much as possible because that was part of my job, but oh gosh… what a journey. 

Due to my job, I visited beauty clinics a lot, and every expert agreed that my skin barrier was significantly damaged. I now had two big problems; to fix my acne and recover my skin barrier.

But little did I know that one would help the other drastically. This is the moment I realised drying out my skin had me pay a price I wasn’t expecting. 

One of the perks of being a beauty editor though is the opportunity to try and receive every beauty treatment you can think of. This includes facials, laser treatments, or even Botox.

Allow me to focus on the three treatments that my skin eventually loved and helped achieve a clear complexion.


Trying Hydrafacials

Hydrafacial is worth the hype and is one of my favourite treatments. It’s a revolutionary skincare treatment combining cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, hydration, and antioxidant protection.

I came across this innovative treatment by the age of 25, at the beginning of 2020, when my skin was at its worst. A publicist introduced it to me and asked if I wanted to try it out and of course, I said yes.  Like most the girls, I love a good facial, but I’m not a fan of extractions after my personal experience with scars so when I read that this kind of treatment didn’t involve my worst enemy, I signed up straight away.


Belen after trying Hydrafacials. Image – Courtesy of writer


Between 2020 and 2023, I had a total of six treatments – one in 2020, two in 2021 and three in 2022- and as someone with oily skin, I noticed a clearer complexion straight from the first treatment. It was a bit odd to watch all the impurities and dead skin cells into the so-called gunk jar, but fun enough to keep me wanting to come back.

I highly recommend it if you, like me, are not a fan of regular facials.


Exploring skin needling

Skin needling, also known as micro-needling or Collagen Induction Therapy, is more invasive and can leave your skin red and tender for a few hours to a day, depending on your skin’s sensitivity. It involves a fine needle device that creates tiny punctures on the skin’s surface.

As a Beauty Editor in 2022, my IG feed was full of before and after’s of girls trying skin needling. Honestly, at first, I didn’t feel attracted to it at all; why would I want to create micro-injuries in my skin? And what if these micro-injuries left my skin worse than it was at the time?

It looked like finally, at 27 years old, I had my acne under control, and I only had to worry about some stubborn scars. But every beauty editor in Sydney I talked to was trying it out. Their results were impressive, so a year later (2023), when I received an invite to try out the must treatment on the lips of my industry colleagues, I said yes.

I had three sessions separated by the span of a month, and only because I had to leave Australia; otherwise, I would have done more.

The results after the first session were ok; after the second, great; and after the third, I was obsessed with the improvement on my skin, in particular around my cheeks; almost all of my scars were gone. So, if you are thinking about it, take the plunge; you can thank me later.


Perfecting with laser hair removal

Laser hair removal may not seem directly related to treating acne, but it did help me significantly manage it. Because, as it turned out, my excess facial hair was contributing to my clogged pores and inflammation.

After returning from Australia in 2023, I saw my trustworthy therapist in my hometown. She was impressed with my skin; six years ago, when I saw her for the last time, my skin was a mess. I had every kind of imperfection, acne scars, you name it, and then it was like it was another face.

I told her about my latest treatment discoveries and how I wanted to keep my oily skin under control, and she recommended we try out laser hair removal.


Belen after the perfect combination of acne treatments for her. Image – Courtesy of writer


After 10 sessions, to this day, my skin is completely clear, with no imperfections, no scars, no facial hair, just the complexion I’ve always wanted. 


The takeaway

For me, finding out exactly what works for my skin was the key to improving my acne.

And if you are on an acne battle like I was, understand the process of saying goodbye to acne and hello to a clear complexion can take work and time. It’s been a bit more than 10 years on my end, so hang on there.

And in the meantime, after I realised nobody cared that much about my appearance as I did, I eventually made peace with my younger self. I hope you do, too. 


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Freelance Beauty Writer

Belen Arce is a beauty editor with over five years of experience writing for prominent digital publications in Australia. She loves diving deep into the world of beauty, exploring the latest trends, products, and industry developments.

Education: University of Valladolid

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